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December-January 2014, Volume 5, Issue 11

Continuing Education Alert

Check Your Calendars!!

One Book SD

School Library Regional Meetings
- December 3, Aberdeen;
- December 10, Sioux Falls

Electronic Resources Challenge
January 13-March 31, online

SDLA Legislative Day
January 23, Pierre

2014 Midwinter Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
January 24-28, 2014

ALA Youth Media Awards, Philadelphia, PA
January 27, 2014

Digital Learning Day
February 5, 2014

Teen Tech Week
March 9-15, 2014

One Book SD

Featured e-Resources of the Month
ChiltonLibrary, Mango Languages now part of State Library e-resources

School libraries


Digital Gizmos: AnswerGarden and Padlet

The phrase "checking for understanding" is one that is often used in education circles. Formative assessment is the process by which we gather information on students understanding of the topic at hand. It is a quick way to guide instruction. By checking for understanding, we know whether students "got it" or we need to do some re-teaching.

Although formative assessment is considered a best practice in the field of education, determining how to check for understanding can be a daunting task. Online tools like Padlet and AnswerGarden are great ways to incorporate formative assessment into lessons. They are also fun tools for other types of information gathering and brainstorming that can be used on most devices. Also, if your automated system does not have the capability to host student book reviews, both these tools can be used for this purpose, too.

AnswerGarden is an online brainstorming tool that allows students to share thoughts/ideas/understandings in up to 20 characters. The limited number of characters per response (tag) allow for creativity as students post their tags to the garden. When you create your garden, you have the option of allowing limited (one tag per student) or unlimited tags. Gardens will view up to 160 tags. The most frequently entered tags appear larger, and you can hover over the tag to view the number of times it was entered as a response. After all tags have been posted, you can export the garden to Wordle or Tagxedo to make a word cloud to share with the class. Here is a Tagxedo that was created from tags on a garden on the Hunger Games.

tagxedo word art created with inspiration from Hunger Games

Padlet, which used to be known as Wallwisher, is another online brainstorming tool that can be used for checking for understanding. Padlet allows students to post more lengthy posts than AnswerGarden. Students can include multimedia items in their posts such as YouTube videos or pictures up to 25MB in size. They can also format wall posts using the same keyboard shortcuts Microsoft Word uses (Example: Ctrl + b or Ctrl + i). By clicking and dragging wall posts can be moved or resized. Padlet walls can be locked from public sharing for privacy of classroom use. Here is a wall that demonstrates how Padlet can be used to have students review books from your library collection: Book Review: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

While both AnswerGarden and Padlet are great tools for most grades, you should consider purpose of use when you decide which one to use. Which websites and/or apps do you use with your students for checking understanding? Email Marta Stirling at with ideas and any questions.



Ebooks in schools: practical information at your fingertips

Do you have ebooks? Where can I get free ebooks? Which ebook format is the best? Do those ebooks work on my tablet? How do I download ebooks? Can all of my students read the same ebook at the same time?

These are just a few of the questions school librarians are hearing from their students and staff about ebooks. In fact, many school librarians are asking the very same questions themselves. There are almost as many answers as there are questions when it comes to the current ebook landscape. However, the essential question is what do you, as a school library, intend to achieve with ebooks for students? This answer needs to drive your decision-making process. You'll find helpful and practical information available in both digital and print formats.

book cover of e books and the school library program a practical guide for the school librarian image used with permission from b n dot comSchool librarians Cathy Leverkus and Shannon Acedo have just published Ebooks and the School Library Program: A Practical Guide for the School Librarian. They suggest it's time to begin exploring now as there will never be one perfect time to get started. Platforms, vendors, collection development, budgeting, cataloging and ethical and legal issues are discussed along with a very useful glossary. You can interlibrary loan this title from the State Library.

Digital resources to begin your ebook research include the following:

  • The American Association of School Librarians has posted a position statement on ebooks in school libraries at
  • School Library Journal recently published an ebook directory at
  • The Booklist webinar "Ebooks in Schools: Lessons Learned From A to Z" is available as an archive at



Digital Learning Day is Feb. 5, 2014

save the date digital learning day february 5 2014

Digital learning is any instructional practice that is effectively using technology to strengthen the student learning experience. Mark your calendar to tune into the national events hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. on Digital Learning Day, Feb. 5, 2014.

Digital Learning Day is designed in a way that allows participants to craft their day to suit their own objectives. Visit for tangible, easily executable ideas and activities to celebrate Digital Learning Day 2014. Some events and celebrations last one hour or one day; others last all year long.






ebooks, reviews, school libraries, teacher, technology, websites

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